-Lazarus of Bethany, who was a dear friend of the Christ, was sick in the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It had been Mary who anointed the Lord with anointment and wiped His feet with her hair. Lazarus was Mary and Martha’s brother. The sisters sent word to the Lord telling Him that Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, was sick. When Jesus heard of this, He made a statement, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” The Lord knows the end from the beginning. Jesus had great love and compassion for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, but He stayed two days longer in the place where He was before going to Bethany. But, afterwards He told His disciples that they all were going back to Judea. God had a plan. Even though it was by now common knowledge that the Jews were out to kill the Messiah, Jesus had to go back and do the work of the Father. When His disciples questioned Him on going back, He answered them, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After this, He made another statement, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples thought He was talking about literal sleep, but Jesus had meant that His friend had by now passed away into eternity. So, Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” Jesus was glad for His disciples’ sakes that He was not there at the time of Lazarus’ passing for the purpose of building their belief in Him. Now they were on their way, charging into enemy territory in Judea, which necessitated Thomas’, also called Didymus, bold remark, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him (John 11:1-16).” The stage was being set.
-When Jesus came to Bethany, which was only a couple of miles to the east of Jerusalem, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. This was a legal death per Jewish law. Many of the Jews had come to console Martha and Mary concerning their brother, so there would be many witnesses to what was about to happen. Martha went out to meet Jesus, but her sister Mary stayed at the house. Martha, knowing God’s power to heal, point-blank told Jesus when she saw Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she affirmed hope, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to this grieving sister, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha thought He was speaking of the resurrection in some distant future, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus now makes a profound statement to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha affirmed her confession, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” After saying this, she went away and called her sister, Mary, saying secretly to her, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” When Mary heard this, she sprang up quickly and was coming to Him. Jesus had yet to get into the village, and when Mary left, all those coming there to console followed her out supposing she was going to the tomb of her brother to mourn. As Mary came to Jesus, she fell at His feet and also expressed belief that had He gotten there sooner all would have been well with Lazarus. Jesus experienced the emotion of the moment when He observed her and everyone there weeping. Deeply moved in spirit and troubled, Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told Him, “Come and see.” Then we have the shortest verse in Scripture, “Jesus wept.” This demonstration alerted the crowd to just how much He loved His departed friend. What we don’t know is that if Jesus was weeping because of the emotion of the moment or if He was weeping because He was going to be bringing his friend back to a fallen world from Heaven in Paradise with the Father. Either could be correct in this instance. There were those who still wondered why this all had to happen, and that it could certainly have been possible to heal him from death (John 11:17-37).
-Now Jesus came to the tomb of His friend, being deeply moved within His Spirit. The place where Lazarus had been laid was a cave with a stone covering it. Strangely, Jesus instructed them to remove the stone, but sensible Martha exclaimed, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus reminded her though, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” At last, they did remove the stone. Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and spoke to the Father, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” Upon completion of these words, He commanded in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” He did it! The dead man walked out of the tomb coming forth bound hand, foot, and face with burial wrappings. Talk about awesome! Jesus got practical now, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Obviously for good reason, many of the Jews who had come to Mary and Martha now believed in Jesus because they had seen this once in a lifetime resuscitation miracle (John 11:38-45). This certainly foreshadowed His own resurrection, which was quickly approaching.
-However, some of them went and told the Pharisees of the things Jesus had done. These Pharisees and chiefs priest convened a council. Their pragmatism took over with their true evil in the fear of man showing by now as they maintained, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Caiaphas, who was high priest for that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” He had previously prophesied this event as the high priest that year, and he was now making efforts to make that a reality. This prophecy, he had rightly deduced, would not only help the nation of Israel, but it would also gather together into one the children of God who were scattered aboard. From that day on, they proactively planned together to kill the Messiah. Jesus on His part was no longer walking publicly among the Jews. He went away from there to the country, near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim. It was there where He would stay with His disciples. The Passover was now near, and many were coming out of the country to purify themselves before the LORD at His Temple. Many were seeking Jesus at this time and wondering if He would make an appearance. The chief priests and Pharisees were giving strict orders that if anyone knew His whereabouts, they needed to report it, so that they might be able to seize Him (John 11:46-57). The plot for the redemption of mankind was thickening.
-*Application*- Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in Him, our souls will never perish and we will be raised to life in the last day. This is the truth and hope that all humanity longs for in this cursed world. Share the message and be bold in it. Christ is still redeeming people today. Have no fear of man or their consequences (1 Peter 1:3-9). Be willing to wait for His perfect timing.
Verse to Memorize: John 11:25-26, 35